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Last updated 8 Nov 2021
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Assistant Referee

Often shortened to 'AR'

Formerly known as 'Linesman'

1) Throw-ins

The first duty of an AR is to indicate whether the ball is out* and which team put it out. 

*Out means "All of the ball - over all of the line" viewed from above.

If the ball goes out over your touchline, then
  1. Stop running
  2. Get the flag into your correct hand (no crossovers)
  3. Hold it up at 45° in the direction of the team to take the throw.
  4. If the ref is pointing the other way, then change your direction to agree with the ref.   
  5. Keep indicating for a minimum of 3 secs.  Longer if can see the wrong team is lining up to take the throw.


  • If the ball never came in, it's a re-take.
  • If the ball came in and went out without being touched, it's throw-in to the other team where the ball went out.

Correct Throws

  • Both feet on the ground, on or outside the line.
  • Ball must come from behind and over the head. 
  • Must be a throw not a drop.
  • Must throw in the direction they're facing. Can't turn and throw 'around a corner'.

For Foul Throws

  • Raise your flag and do an exaggerated simulation of what they did wrong.

2) Goal-Kicks & Corners

If the ball goes out over your goal line, then
  1. Stop running
  2. Get the flag into your right hand (no crossovers)
  3. For a goal kick, point it straight at the goal box.
  4. For a corner, point your flag downwards towards the corner nearest to you. Regardless of which side the corner is to be taken from.
  5. If the ref is pointing the other way, then change your indication to agree with the ref.  
  6. Keep indicating for a minimum of 3 secs.  Longer if can see the teams are lining up against the decision.


  • The ball must be placed anywhere inside the goal box and be stationary when it is kicked.
  • Attacking players must remain outside the penalty box until the ball is in play.
  • Defending players can stand anywhere on the ground.
  • The ball in play as soon as it is kicked and obviously moves. 


  • If the ball never comes in from a corner, it's a goal-kick because the ball was in the instant it was kicked.
  • If the ball goes out and curves back in, it's a goal kick.

2) Offside

Standing in an offside position when the ball comes forward doesn’t mean they are offside. Don’t flag for offside unless they actually get the ball or they tackle a defender.

Other situations also count as ‘interfering with play’, eg, drawing a defender but these are a bit obscure for this basic page.

You need to run to stay level with the last defender in order to see if anyone is offside. Unless signalling, always keep your flag pointing down and pitchside so the ref can see it even when you are sprinting.

To indicate offside:

  1. Stop moving.
  2. Stand still with your flag straight up.
  3. Stay like that until a) the ref blows the free-kick, b) the refs waves you down, c) More than 15 seconds have passed and the game has moved 3-4 plays ahead of the offence.
  4. Once the ref blows the free-kick for offside, then lower your flag to point to where the offence occurred as shown here.
  5. Stay still like that until the ball has been placed for the free-kick. You are telling the ref and the players where to take the kick from.

The offside rule (simplified):

  • Where are they? A player is offside if they are nearer to the opponent’s goal than both the ball and the last opponent (excluding the goalkeeper) when their teammate plays the ball to them.
    In other words, a player can’t receive the ball from a teammate unless there is at least one defender between him and the goal (unless their teammate is playing the ball backwards).

  • What are they doing? A player is only offside if he/she is:
    • interfering with play
      (Eg. part of the attacking move)
    • or interfering with an opponent
      (Eg. preventing the opponent from defending against the attacking move)
    • or gaining any advantage by being in that position.

  • Exceptions. A player can’t be offside
    • in their own half
    • directly from a goal-kick
    • directly from a throw-in
    • directly from a corner kick

Test yourself now with The Times Video Offside Test

3) Other AR Duties

The below duties are listed for completeness however be aware the most referees won't require a Club AR to perform any of these additional duties.  Mostly their advice is "just stick to ball out of play and offsides, I'll look after the rest."


As soon as a sub is requested, hold your flag horizontal over your head with your arms straight to indicate to the ref that a sub has been requested.  Hold it up until the the ref signals for the subs to come on. 

If the ref doesn't want incoming player(s) to enter the field until the outgoing player(s) are off the ground, then call to the incoming subs "Wait!"

Unseen Incidents

Keeping one eye on 22 players is an impossible task for the referee. The AR, therefore, acts as a second pair of eyes. It is their duty to indicate when an incident occurs out of the referee’s view by holding the flag straight up.

Better View

If the referee believes the linesman had a better view of an incident, they will sometimes come over and ask the AR what they saw. Only say what you are completely sure of, not what you think might have happened.

Penalty Kicks

The AR moves to the goal line where the side of the penalty box meets it. 

  • Monitor whether the whole of the ball crosses the whole of the line.
  • If the goalkeeper moves off their line with both feet before the ball is kicked, and the penalty is saved, then put your flag straight up. The referee will come over and ask what happened. If you are sure the GK moved early with both feet then the penalty will be retaken.

Entering the Field of Play

ARs rarely enter the field of play during the halves, remaining on the sideline for most of the game. If needed, an AR can enter the field of play to assist the referee during free-kick procedures, specifically to help enforce the 10 yards law. 

ARs also help the referee when scuffles or fights occur. According to the FIFA Laws of the Game, the nearest assistant referee may enter the field of play to assist the referee in situations of mass confrontation.

Holding the Flag

The flag must always be unfurled and visible to the referee. This usually means carrying the flag in the hand closest to the referee and pointing down.

When making a signal, the assistant referee (AR) stops, faces the field of play, makes eye contact with the referee and raises the flag.

Especially don’t wave the flag about swatting flies unless you want the referee's attention.

lineman- 1

27 March 2022

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